The Thief Lord

The Thief Lord

"This article is about the novel, for information about the movie see The Thief Lord (film)"

Infobox Book |
name = The Thief Lord
title_orig = Herr der Diebe
translator = Oliver Latsch

image_caption = English book cover by Christian Birmingham
author = Cornelia Funke
cover_artist =
country = Germany
language = German, English, Spanish
series =
genre = Children's Fantasy novel
publisher = Chicken House Publishing Ltd.
release_date = 2000
english_release_date = 2002
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 345 pp
isbn = ISBN 0-439-40437-1
followed_by =

"The Thief Lord" (original German title: "Herr der Diebe") is a 2000 children's book by German author Cornelia Funke, whose books have been published in many other languages. It is available in English from Chicken House Publishing, Ltd. It was published in German in 2000 and translated into English by Oliver Latsch in 2002 for The Chicken House publishing company. It was also adapted into a film in 2006.


Scipio Massimo: Scipio is also referred to as Scip, but only by Bo, unless you want an icy stare in response. He is a 13 year old boy that helps a poor group of orphans find a safe place to live, which, in this case, is an abandoned theater called the Stella. He met three orphans, Mosca, Hornet, and Riccio when Riccio tried to steal something off of him. Scipio caught him and agreed to let him go only if Riccio took him to see Mosca and Hornet. He then brought them to the Stella, and Hornet found Prosper and Bo later, bringing them to the theater to live as well. Scipio has long hair that is as sleek and black as a raven, and is tied into a ponytail with a ribbon. He also wears black, high-heeled boots a few sizes too big for him to make him seem taller. However, Scipio is shorter in height (and in muscles) than his cohort, Mosca. He wears a long, black, trench coat. He is known as the "Thief Lord" and he also wears a black masquerade mask to hide his famous identity. Scipio is very mature for his age, and he hates being treated as a helpless little child by his father. Thus, in an effort to escape his father, Scipio wishes to be an adult. Throughout the book, he lives a double life. He tells the orphans that he is an orphan, too and that he ran away from the orphanage and lived with a master thief, when actually is a rich boy living in a huge mansion. He rides the mystical merry-go-round and becomes a young adult. He works for Victor after he turns into an adult, and never goes home again, only sending a letter to his father saying that he is well.

Prosper: People call him Prop, sometimes. He is 12 year old orphan, who is the brother of Boniface (Bo). His mother passed away a few months ago, and he had to take care of his brother all by himself. He was sent into the care of his aunt and uncle, but he ran away with his brother because his aunt was planning to separate them, sending Prosper to boarding school while she looked after Bo. Since his mother always used to tell him about the magic of Venice, he made his way to the city. Bo got sick, however, and he was going to find a policeman to bring him back to Aunt Esther, but Hornet found him first and brought him back to the Stella, an abandoned theater where several orphans were living in secret. He has wavy brown hair that had to be cut short in the middle of the "The Thief Lord" in an attempt to fool Victor, who was on their trail. He has a horrible relationship with his uncle and aunt, Esther and Maximilian Hartlieb. He is very protective of Bo, and he doesn't trust someone right away.

Boniface: Everyone calls him Bo. A very cute 5 year old, he escaped the clutches of his aunt and uncle with his brother. He has curly blonde hair, and an angelic face. He enjoys adventures with Scipio, and he is very close to his older brother Prosper. His one desire is to go on one of Scipio's raids.

Caterina "Hornet" Grimani: Prefers the name Hornet over her real name. She has the name Caterina Grimani written in several of her books, but she never talks about her old life because it makes her too sad. She is slender and has brown hair worn in a long braid to her hips. It looks like a hornet's stinger (hence the nickname). She is a very clever girl, and she always has her nose in a book. She always bugs Scipio and cares for Bo, possibly because she is the only girl in the group. She also shows concern for Prosper's safety on more then one occasion. Hornet used to live with Riccio and Mosca in the basement of an abandoned house before Scipio found them and took them to the Stella. She was also the one who found Prosper and Bo and brought them to the theater.

Riccio: Sometimes called Hedgehog, or Riccio the hedgehog. He is a scrawny boy and smaller then Prosper. He has brown hair that sticks out everywhere, earning him his nickname. He also has a tooth missing, which he lost in a chase. His bed is stuffed with stuffed animals and his mattress is full of comics. He also loves sweets, which is why he has horrible teeth. He is an orphan and grew up in an orphanage, never knowing his parents. Scipio found Riccio (as well as Hornet and Mosca who used to live together with Riccio) when he tried to steal something off him, but was caught. Riccio loves to crack jokes.

Mosca: He is a tall, muscular boy of African descent. His skin is so black that Riccio says that he could creep through the shadows. He loves the water and even made his own boat. Mosca loves tinkering with his radio. Although he does not speak of his past, in the film version he is said to have a father who "always thinks of him," but sailed away on a boat and never came back.

Victor Getz: A detective looking for Bo and Prosper. He loves disguises and has lived in Italy for 15 years. He can speak English and Italian. He chases after Prosper and Riccio on their way back from Barbarossa's. He soon befriends the children and lies to Esther, saying the boys left Venice. He is kidnapped by the children and escapes when they have all left. He owns two tortoises.

Ida Spavento: A nice lady who looks after the kids for a while and at the end of the book, takes in Prosper, Bo, and Hornet. She is an orphan and grew up in an orphanage. She now lives in an old mansion and found the Conte's wing when in the orphanage.

Esther: Prosper and Bo's snobby, rich aunt. She only wants to keep Bo because he looks like an angel and decides to send Prosper to boarding school where he can rarely see Bo. She also hires Victor to find the two boys and ends up adopting Barbarossa. She is married and her husband is named Max.

Ernesto Barbarossa: Sometimes referred as the "Redbeard". An extremely cheap antique dealer that loves to rip people off. He ends up riding and breaking the Merry-Go-Round and gets stuck at an age a little younger than Bo. At the end of the book, Barbarossa is adopted by Esther (he wants to live with her because she is rich), but is eventually caught stealing her things and is sent to a boarding school where he becomes a big bully. On one of Riccio's and Prosper's visits to his shop they find out that Barbarossa's beard is dyed.

Conte: The old man that Scipio, Mosca, and Prosper met in a confessional while planning to steal something for him. He is the Thief Lord's first client asking for something to be stolen and says that he will give him a large amount of money (5 million lire). The money turns out to be counterfeit. He uses the wing to fix the Merry-go-round, and becomes a child. He and his sister offer Scipio the ride because he cannot pay the money.


The Thief Lord is a magical tale about two brothers, Prosper and Bo, who run away to Venice, Italy after the death of their mother. After they are orphaned, Bo (who is five years old) is sent to live with his cruel aunt Esther while Prosper (who is around twelve)is sent to a boarding school. However, Prosper runs away and kidnaps Bo. Together, they decide to go to Venice, the magical city that their mother always talked about. The boys are soon befriended by four other orphans: Hornet, Riccio, Mosca, and their mysterious leader, Scipio (or the "Thief Lord") The children take Prosper and Bo to an abandoned movie theater, the Stella or Star-Palace, which is where they all live. The children survive by selling the things that Scipio steals from wealthy houses to an old shopkeeper, Ernesto Barbarossa. All is well until Prosper and Bo's aunt Esther soon finds out that the boys are in Venice. She contacts a disguise-loving detective, Victor Getz, to capture the boys. Meanwhile, Barbarossa tells the children about one of his clients that needs someone to procure (steal) something for him. The Thief Lord accepts the job and meets the client, who is called The Conte, in a confessional with the others. They find out that the object they are to steal is a wooden wing and that they are to steal it from a wealthy photographer's house, whose name is Ida Spavento. If they manage to steal it, they will receive five million lire.

While Mosca, Prosper, and the Thief Lord are inside the confessional talking to the Conte, Riccio, Hornet, and Bo wait outside. Bo is distracted by a tourist who is actually Victor in disguise. Victor persuades Bo to tell him his name and that he lives in an abandoned movie theater. When the others see Bo talking to Victor, Victor escapes, but watches the kids as they enter a store. The older children find out that Victor "the tourist" is actually a detective (which is why they enter the store.) Hornet follows Victor and creates a distraction by pretending that Victor was trying to kidnap/molest her while the others escape back to the movie theater. Hornet manages to steal Victor's wallet and the children find out that Victor is a detective and is trying to capture Prosper and Bo.

Victor visits the very wealthy Doctor Massimo, the owner of the Stella, and finds out that Scipio the "Thief Lord" is actually Doctor Massimo's son, instead of an orphan like he has told the other children. Scipio manages to warn the children that Victor is coming. They capture Victor when he comes looking for them and hold him prisoner. However, Victor tells them that Scipio is actually a young rich boy. When the group doesn't believe him, he tells them to visit Doctor Massimo's house. They go to the house and find out that Scipio has lied to them all along and actually stole all the loot from his own father. When the orphans come back to the movie theater, feeling betrayed by the Thief Lord, they discover that Victor has escaped. However, he leaves a note telling them that he will not tell Esther where Prosper and Bo are, if they do not continue the heist to steal the wing. The orphans decide to sneak into Ida's house to steal the valuable wing for the Conte without Scipio. However, when at the house they find out that Scipio is already there. They are all eventually caught and Ida reveals the story of the wing, which was actually part of a magical merry-go-round that can turn a child into an adult and a adult into a child. The group decides to team up with Ida, and give the wing to the Conte. On the night of the trade, Hornet and Bo stay at the Stella while the others trade the wing in. After they make the trade with the Conte and his sister, the Contessa, they follow behind on Ida's boat where they find the Conte's island, where he must be keeping the merry-go-round. Meanwhile, Hornet and Bo are captured by the police. Hornet is taken to an orphanage while Bo is returned to Esther.

The children find out where Hornet and Bo are and that the money they received from the Conte was fake. Prosper is in despair, and decides to leave with Scipio to go to the island. Meanwhile, Bo is with his aunt and uncle, where he throws tantrum after tantrum, eventually running away. Victor finds him at the Stella and takes him to Ida's home to find that Prosper is not there. Meanwhile, Prosper and Scipio reach the island. They meet a younger version of the Conte and Contessa, and Scipio demands a ride on the merry-go-round, so he can grow up, and move out of his home and away from his father. He successfully manages to age correctly, but Barbarossa shows up and demands to see the Conte's treasure. They trick him into riding the merry-go-round and he is turned into a small child. In an attempt to stop, he breaks the wing, effectively rendering the Merry-Go-Round useless, and making the age changes irreversible. Soon Scipio and Prosper return to Ida's with baby Barbarossa, where Prosper learns that Bo is no longer wanted by their aunt and can live with Prosper. Meanwhile, Hornet is taken out of the orphanage by Ida, who pretends to be her godmother.

Soon afterwards, Hornet, Prosper, and Bo decide to live with Ida and go to school while Mosca and Riccio decide to live in an abandoned house (since they do not want to go to school). Scipio works for Victor and sends letters to his father saying that he is alright, but can't come home. They all live happily and visit each other oftenly. Barbarossa has tricked Esther into adopting him when he finds out that she is rich. He acts sweet and innocent to get her to take him in, but when he arrives at Esther's house he is caught stealing. Tearfully, Esther sends him to a boarding school where he is the biggest bully, making children do his homework, polish his shoes, and sometimes even steal things. He also makes the children call him an awful name..."The Thief Lord"!


"The Thief Lord" is a "New York Times" bestseller, as well as a "USA Today" bestseller and a Book Sense bestseller.

External links

* [ The Thief Lord's summary page from the publisher's website] .
*imdb title|id=0430674|title=The Thief Lord
* [ Cornelia Funke's Official Site]

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